NBA Playoffs Preview: Where & When Each Team Plays [VIDEOS]
This weekend, the 2015 NBA playoffs get started. We’re going to miss Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, but other than that, the league’s biggest stars are set to take the league’s biggest stage, with all eight first-round series kicking off either Saturday or Sunday.
Let’s start off out West, since that’s where the real action is, at least in the early rounds. (All times EST.)
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans: This series, featuring MVP candidates Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis, doesn’t figure to go more than five games. The Warriors have been dominant all season, and the Pelicans just barely snuck into the eighth spot. Game 1 is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. PREDICTION: Warriors in four.
2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks: The Rockets emerged as the No. 2 seed on the last day of the season, and James Harden (who has a solid shot at the MVP as well) looks to lead his team past the plainly overmatched Mavericks. This is probably the least interesting of the playoff matchups, but who knows, it could reach six or maybe even seven games. Game 1 is Saturday at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN. PREDICTION: Houston in five.
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. San Antonio Spurs: Wait, the defending-champ Spurs are a 6-seed? Now things are getting interesting. People have been waiting years for the Spurs to finally fade away, but every year their critics eat their words. This year, though, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin & Co. should finally get the job done. Unless they don’t, and the Spurs win another title — would that be so weird? Game 1 is Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN. PREDICTION: Clippers in seven.
4. Portland Trail Blazers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies: Can the Grizzlies, who looked like a dominant force for much of the season, overcome a recent spate of injuries that dropped them to the 5-seed? Can the Trail Blazers — who don’t have home-court advantage, even though they’re the higher seed — move past a season where many think they didn’t live up to their potential? This series is even more unpredictable than Clippers-Spurs. Game 1 is Sunday at 8 p.m. on TNT. PREDICTION: Um, Grizzlies in six? Sure why not.
1. Atlanta Hawks vs. 8. Brooklyn Nets: If you’re going to skip watching any series, skip this one. We can’t come up with any reasons to watch. Game 1 is Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on TNT. PREDICTION: Hawks in five.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 7. Boston Celtics: For LeBron James, the regular season went more or less as planned: get to the playoffs in good shape to win the conference. It may have been an up-and-down year for the King and his Cavs, but they’re where they need to be, and shouldn’t have much trouble with the Celtics. Game 1 is Sunday at 3 p.m. on ABC. PREDICTION: Cavaliers in five.
3. Chicago Bulls vs. 6. Milwaukee Bucks: Can the Bulls win the East? They’ve been trying to since some guy named Jordan was there, and they haven’t gotten it done. To do so this year, they’ll have to start by getting past a young and energetic Bucks squad that would love to topple their division rivals. Game 1 is Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN. PREDICTION: Bulls in six.
4. Toronto Raptors vs. 5. Washington Wizards: This should be another fascinating 4-versus-5 series, and we bet it’ll go the full seven. The Wizards seem like a team on the rise, ready to take their place among the East’s best, but they need to take care of business. The Raptors are something of a mystery: very talented, but can’t quite seem to put it all together, at least not for a full season. Perhaps a short series suits them. PREDICTION: Wizards in seven.